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Category: Computers

IT Stuff: How not to deal with valuable data


Some Facebook groups that you may find helpful:


From Andrew’s Blog: How to recover most or all of your journalspace posts/images using Google cache


Hi there, Slashdotters. My blog has some more information which you may find interesting.


Journalspace is no more.

DriveSavers called today to inform me that the data was unrecoverable.

Here is what happened: the server which held the journalspace data had two large drives in a RAID configuration. As data is written (such as saving an item to the database), it’s automatically copied to both drives, as a backup mechanism.

The value of such a setup is that if one drive fails, the server keeps running, using the remaining drive. Since the remaining drive has a copy of the data on the other drive, the data is intact. The administrator simply replaces the drive that’s gone bad, and the server is back to operating with two redundant drives.

But that’s not what happened here. There was no hardware failure. Both drives are operating fine; DriveSavers had no problem in making images of the drives. The data was simply gone. Overwritten.

The data server had only one purpose: maintaining the journalspace database. There were no other web sites or processes running on the server, and it would be impossible for a software bug in journalspace to overwrite the drives, sector by sector.

The list of potential causes for this disaster is a short one. It includes a catastrophic failure by the operating system (OS X Server, in case you’re interested), or a deliberate effort. A disgruntled member of the Lagomorphics team sabotaged some key servers several months ago after he was caught stealing from the company; as awful as the thought is, we can’t rule out the possibility of additional sabotage.

But, clearly, we failed to take the steps to prevent this from happening. And for that we are very sorry.

So, after nearly six years, journalspace is no more.

If you haven’t yet, visit Dorrie’s Fun Forum; it’s operated by a long-time journalspace member. If you’re continuing your blog elsewhere, you can post the URL there so people can keep up with you.

We’re considering releasing the journalspace source code to the open source community. We may also sell the journalspace domain and trademarks. Follow us on twitter at for news.

As a somewhat newly-minted overnight admin for a firm that deals almost exclusivley in important information, this story is a reminder about how important it is to keep up to date backups (something that I don’t do on my personal machines as much as I should)

I don’t imagine for a second that my customers would be happy to find out that I was not keeping a non-volatile backup of my important data like these people were,  but I don’t know if their customers were even paying for the service, so this may be a non-issue in terms of cash.  I didn’t look any deeper to find out.

As for my personal sites,  I keep backups off site and on other mediums, but not as often as one might want or expect.  In Fact, I’m doing one now just in case.

Blowing the lid of

Here’s where things get a great deal more interesting on this whole “Prank”

Usually, when you are going to perform a redirect as a prank, you use an A record to redirect the request, so is redirected to via an A record. In this case the redirect is a highly disrecommended CNAME or Canonical Nam pointing to an IP address the record reads like this VOTEFORTHEMILF.COM IN CNAME

This IP, whether you go to it via http:\\ or (which now seems to redirect to google in some cases) goes to a special Palin greeting.

All of this is kind of known, but I’m providing a summation that makes the “It was a prank” angle seem like a stupid bit of misdirection.  How could the prankster have known that led to a special palin message? has no PTR record and is the A record of JOHNMCAIN.COM but NOT
The A Record for points to an aliased address from his DNS hosting provider:

Aliases: does not

Non-authoritative answer:

Visiting the IP of in your browser connects you to nothing.

Visiting the IP of in your browser connects you to a website.

Why would the webmaster of John Mcain’s website link a site to one IP and not the other?  That’s more than odd.  Here’s why, it’s the same amount of work to set it up, you can copy and paste one configuration to another and make it active so that WEB recquests for IP one and IP two will go to the same place, but in this case reqeusts initially bound for end up going to a special palin greeting. How could the prankster have pre-knowledge that the greeting would be there?  I mean, if was a simple redirect to the IP, and the IP (in the case of the more popular does not connect to a configured website why would they imagine it would magically connect to a Palin related website?

This story is not over, not complete and the “prankster” isn’t giving up their secrets at all.

In the end, this is just a distraction, but it’s a fun tech mystery too, and what’s more fun on a Friday night than a fun tech mystery, right?

Cuil maybe useless, but Clusty shows promise

You will remember that yesterday cuil was released upon the world with as much fanfare as possible.  I was unimpressed.  I’ve had a few hits here since then, mostly variations on “Cuil” and “Useless” which express a great deal of the emotion that Cuil engendered.  Maybe because of the lack of Hubris that Cuil showed, maybe because they copped Flickr’s color scheme for their logo.  I don’t care; Cuil is just not that great.

That aside a commenter (John) pointed out Clusty which I promptly checked out; ego surf? Check.  Deep Search on my real info? Check.  Satisfaction?  Check.

Nice One John, I’ll have to keep Clusty on my mind when searching.

Cuil: Totally useless

I read about cuil this morning while looking through the posts on my iGoogle page.  Interested in new things and not willing to simply discount it out of hand, I fired up the ethernets and typed my name and interests into it’s waiting inputs.

And didn’t find the website you are reading this on.

Not at all.

Not even if I searched for things I knew were on this page.

So, yeah. Cuil sucks.

Sorry guys, you have a long way to go if someone can’t ego surf their own website from your engine.

HackinTosh Prime

HackinTosh Prime, originally uploaded by NiteMayr.

After a day of not working on my new front page (not really working on it) I have my (new) Ubuntu install set up to look like Leopard. I don’t wanna pay for Leopard (read I don’t want to pay for a Mac); so I faked it.

Yeah, I’m a poser.


Getting your iTunes Playlists into the Zune 2.0 Software

I upgraded to the Zune 2.0 software, which promptly killed all the useful playlists I had set up for playing in my Xbox when I wanted to listen to music.

I used to just drag and drop my playlist contents into Media player 11, but since Zune streams mp4s and I have a buttload of them, I made the transition.

I upgraded to 2.0 and liked the new interface, but the lack of any sort of smart playlists leaves me using Itunes to make playlists and no obvious way to get them into Zune.

I have figured out the steps to make this happen:

  1. Open up itunes and shrink the window to a point where it is still usefull, but not maximized at all.
  2. Open up WMP 11 and maximize it.
  3. Click on the the Now Playing button and then ensure the “List Pane” is displayed.  If the List Pane is not displayed, click the down arrow under “Now Playing” and click “Show List Pane” (I searched for ages to find this when I decided I wanted it)  It also appears on the Library screen if you do not want to use it on the “Now Playing” screen.
  4. Now, select the contents of your playlist in iTunes and then Drag and Drop the contents to the List Pane in Windows Media player.
  5. Once your songs appear in Windows Media Player, Click the down arrow next to “Untitled Playlist” and then click “Save Playlist As…”
  6. Click the Down Arrow beside the file format and choose “M3U” as your format and save your playlist.
  7. As long as you are saving your playlist in the default C:\Documents\username\My documents\My Music\My Playlists location, it will appear automatically in the Zune Software.
  8. Once the new playlist appears in the Zune software you may choose delete the m3u file as the Zune software appears to keep it’s own copy.

If you do not save the file in the default location or simply wish a more manual method, save the playlist in m3u format and drag and drop the new m3u into a waiting playlist in the Zune Software.

Have fun with your new software!

Originally posted on

You know you've done wrong by your customer when

Starting immediately, we will be upping the activation count to a 5 by 5 plan. We will be raising the maximum amount of computers a user can have BioShock installed on simultaneously from 2 to 5, and allowing a user to reinstall BioShock on each of those computers from 3 times to 5 times

Oh, something is wrong with your install?  Reinstall.  Hmm, still not working, reinstall.

Have these people even seen the inside of a software support center?

Reinstall is step 2 in the four-step customer blow-off plan for bad techs.

For those at home, the four-step plan is this:

1.   Did you reboot?  Will that take a long time?  Go ahead and call back if that doesn’t help!

2.   Did you reinstall?  That will take a long time!  Go ahead and call back if that doesn’t help!

3.   Did you install Patch X+1, [where x is the version the customer has and +1 is a cosmetic update]?  The download will take a long time.  Go ahead and call back if that doesn’t help!

4.   I’m sorry, I don’t support that operating system, let me direct you to the correct agents, thanks for calling!

At least twice in any long-term support issue, a customer is going to be forced to reinstall.  If they have done so on their own they are already buttressing against these imaginary limits.

Let customers who have physical media or downloaded “unlocked” media reinstall as they want, if you are trying to lock stuff down to prevent piracy, REWARD paying customers with content that is only available through online activation of keys, make the enhanced content online only and activated only through an SSL encrypted keying system.

Ta Daaaa!

Revenue stream saved

Setting up SMS SMTP 5.X and a Mail Server on CentOS 5

I apologize the the lack of detail in the post, I created it to prompt myself along when I performed installs at future dates, but never got around to filling it out.

  1. Perform a custom server only install of CentOS
  2. Do not install Mysql, dovecot or any other mail related software
  3. Install Sendmail via yum.
  4. Install Legacy software development, install Legacy software support. Install the basic development tools
  5. Once the install is complete; update and reboot
  6. Configure the users that SMS SMTP wants (create the users manually establishing their group memberships ahead of time)
  7. Install SMS SMTP using the smssmtp install binary and NOT “installer”
  8. Perform a typical install
  9. Reboot
  10. license and configure SMS SMTP to deliver local mail to port 25
  11. Download and compile sendmail, install using Build install, this will overwrite the sendmail “fake” that SMSSMTP put into place.
  12. Modify the sendmail configuration to accept mail for your domain
  13. use chkconfig to configure sendmail to start at level 3
  14. reboot
  15. install dovecot, allow it to install mysql
  16. reboot
  17. You may have to configure dovecot to use Maildir correctly
  18. Done.

Late Night Hacking

Well, not really hacking.  I decided to try and use my PDA/Phone to trigger my new Rebel VIA IR.  After numerous false starts and misses, I found these magic codes:

> > Immediate trigger:
> > 0000 007d 0001 0001 000f 00f2 000f 0cdb
> > 2-second delay
> > 0000 007f 0001 0001 000f 00b0 000f 0cbe

These are the HEX codes for the IR commands needed t o perform the remote trigger.

Here are two of the first few pictures I took.  I’m still working it out, but it totally worked!

Now I just need a remote wire trigger and I’m set!